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xi6             A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
felt that he would rather make friends than enemies, would rather find understanding than incur misunderstanding.
"They think, for instance, that when I run hat-pins or skewers through my jaws if it is not a clever trick then it is a matter of being drugged, or if none of these things then it is a matter of forcing my will to resist the pain. Yet, if that were true, why is it that there are no scars on my body after I have been so badly wounded and cut? The fact is, that they cannot get away from their accustomed ways of thinking; they cannot grasp the possibility of the truth of my own explanations. Let them try to stick knives and skewers into their own throats and faces: they will soon see the difference. They may keep on saying to themselves that they do not feel it, and they may try their utmost not to, yet they will certainly do so."
He paused on this indignant note.
"But you want my explanations. The two secrets—although that is hardly the correct term, it will suffice—which enable me to perform all my feats are, first, pressure on certain nerve centres of the body; second, ability to enter into the cataleptic coma. Anyone who is suited and who will undergo the long training which I had to undergo in order to master and successfully practise the application of these two secrets, may perform the same feats. Without such application I could not claim to have the courage to resist the pain of these feats without a murmur, for I arn not built like those Hindu fakirs you have seen who voluptuously seek to torture themselves and who endure voluntarily terrible sufferings dictated by their doctrines of ascetism. I have broken away from such barbarous doctrines and I definitely condemn the exaggerated exercises those ascetics set themselves. The only things I share with them are, on the doctrinal side, to live inwardly detached in spirit, and on the side of practices, the swallowing backwards of the tongue and the entry into catalepsy."
He spoke with a frankness which, knowing the ways of thought of Oriental fakirs, surprised me. However, I asked him:
**Will you please explain more fully your first secret?"
"Yes," came the soft voice in response. "Briefly, it is unnecessary for me to tell you that the nerves are the conductors of all pain, but it is necessary to point out that by finger pressure, to draw the blood away from the brain, on selected nerve centres, the latter are struck with anaesthesia. Mind you, I am